On February 3, 2017, faculty and staff from 14 different colleges and over 25 divisions or academic units gathered for the first, annual University of Alabama Online Learning Innovation Summit. Several participants remarked that this was the first time they had come together at UA to discuss online learning with such a diversity of disciplines and perspectives.
After a plenary session around online teaching, with a look at the projects of this year’s Innovation Scholars and Mentors, we broke into small group discussions around fostering academic community, communicating effectively with students, creating useful videos, using ThingLink, and user-generated media.
In the keynote by John Seely Brown, we were invited to consider for 21st-century learners the role of play and imagination, the importance of tinkering to stimulate lifelong learning, blended epistemologies in which learners create both content and context, and participatory knowledge strategies.
We heard from some of you after OLIS that you felt more encouraged to offer students a framework within which they can “tinker” or “play” to find more depth of knowledge, and that you were inspired to look for ways to allow students to participate more deeply in class activities. One participant remarked, “I already focus on imagination and play in my courses, but I will do so even more and will guide students to reflect on how flexible thinking will help their future success.”
We’re providing you the OLIS Survey Results so you can learn how the unconference was experienced and what new ideas have emerged. For an “in the moment” read, take a look at #olis2017 live tweeting, as well as the photo stream.
We look forward to exploring with you the potential outcomes (teaching ideas? tools? initiatives?) of OLIS and hope you will not only join us next year, but bring even more of your colleagues! In the meantime, we would love to hear from you about how you are moving forward with exploration and implementation of new tools and ideas in your teaching.